It is with great sadness that I have to inform fellow former members of the Royal Observer Corps of the death of Margaret Deuchar or, as most of us knew her, Peggy. I had seen her only a couple of months ago when I called in at the bungalow in High Lane, Cheshire which she had shared with her husband Bill Deuchar BEM ( also a long serving member of the ROC and ex-Seaborne) until his death in 2006.
She was, as usual, in very good spirits, despite an impending operation and our conversation tended to follow its usual pattern of recalling ROC memories. I came away with copies of many fascinating documents, letters etc. which were mainly concerned with Bill’s Seaborne experiences and many of these have been passed on to Neville Cullingford for the ROC Archive. It transpired that Peggy had spent many hours going through Bill’s notes (“His hand writing is terrible”) and typing out summaries of the main contents.
I was shocked therefore to receive a telephone call on 4 February 2008 from Peggy’s niece, Julie, to tell me that Peggy had died some days after the operation had taken place.
Peggy joined the Royal Observer Corps in 1948 and initially served on the Manchester Ops Room. Her prowess and efforts in learning the many procedures meant that she was soon promoted to the position of Post Controller, a position in which she was one of the main operational links between the Control and its Monitoring Posts.
I didn’t come across Peggy until the late 1970’s when, having been promoted to Group Officer, Buxton Post came under my responsibility. It was quite clear that the two of the most enthusiastic post members were Peggy and Bill. One of my first visits to the Post was on one of the regular exercises which we undertook. On that occasion, Peggy and the rest of the crew were surprised by my “suggestion” that they should actually carry out the required drills, rather than just reading off from the exercise facsimiles which were supplied. Many years later, Peggy told me that “I hated your guts for that” but, when she and Bill took over the post training soon after, I was pleased to note their increasing emphasis on practical training.
When before stand-down, Peggy and Bill retired from the Corps, a bit of research by our then DGC, Michael Rose, revealed that Peggy had one of the highest number of Spitfire awards in the United Kingdom. Following stand-down, she and Bill became stalwarts of the Royal Observer Corps Association, Ashbourne Section.
Peggy was the epitome of the faithful, hard working, able and reliable volunteer which made the Royal Observer Corps the effective organisation which it was. If anyone deserved the award of the British Empire Medal, it was her.
(former Group Officer 8 Group Coventry)